Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
Going beyond business development and your ability to generate work, there are a couple of considerations you should think about if you’re looking to get on or speed up the ‘Partner Track’. The first consideration is to learn how to play well with others. Here I am referring to everyone with whom you come into contact on a daily basis; your assistant, paralegals, IT professionals, receptionists, firm management, marketing, library services, etc. Go out of your way to treat these people with the utmost respect and watch how in turn they will over perform and deliver for you. You will not become successful in your career without their support. So when they go out of their way for you, acknowledge their efforts. Take them out to lunch from time to time. Ask them how they would like to contribute. Find out how you can help them achieve their career goals by first understanding what they are. Treat them as you do your clients. In other words get to know them as much as possible.
Giving back to the firm
By this I am referring to what can you do outside your practice to provide value to your firm. Consider answering these questions as a place to start:
- What committees can you be on and contribute to?
- Are their opportunities for you to mentor a summer or articling student, or even an associate more junior then you?
- What can you do outside the walls of your firm in the community to better position your firm?
Follow this advice and you are more likely to become a partner at your firm.
Situation: A 4th year associate already engaged in business development wants to take it to the next level and begin attracting the ‘bigger fish’. She has the attention of one of the senior named partners and decides to invest in coaching to help her build her practice. I was not surprised to learn that she was going to pay me directly and not ask her firm to cover the investment. She did this for many reasons, not the least of which being that she didn’t want anything hanging over her head. She didn’t want the firm to hold expectations over her. The only person who knew about my work with her was the senior partner that she did work for. And he was very supportive.
Approach: We created a business plan for her practice. We identified key events to attend and network. We identified key contacts to help her build her network of referrals. Her confidence in herself and her ability to attract new clients is increasing. She created her own networking/mastermind group and meets monthly. I helped her build her LinkedIn profile and network.
Results: By taking this initiative and hiring me directly, and gaining business development skills, this makes her more valuable as a Lawyer. Whether she ends up staying where she is or looks to move to another firm, her ability to build her own book of business makes her more valuable and attractive to partnership. She invested in herself, in her career and her success. Based on my experience, she will see that investment pay off in dividends for years to come.
When it comes time for business development you seem to have a habit. That habit is not making time for some of the most important tasks. If you want to grow your practice or your firm, you have to make time. How much has that habit cost you over the years? I know times are tough and you are challenged with time. It could start with looking at your priorities and making adjustments to allow more time for business development.
You attend conferences and listen to webinars. You read books on marketing and business development. You even get a little excited on these webinars. But then you go right back to your old habits and create an excuse or excuses for not to jump into action. I challenge you right now to think of one action or strategy that you’re learned recently and run with it. Run with it all the way to the bank. Just one thing. That will start a chain reaction of results and motivate you to try more and different things. As I tell my clients, “Nike”-just do it! If you want help, call me. That is what I do; help my clients get into action. Do the work, and live the results.
Before you get out their and marketing yourself, your practice or your firm, the first question you should ask yourself, is “Who do you wish to serve?” I advise you start to answer that question by taking a look at your own values. What are they? What’s important to you? Do most of your current clients have similar values? Align your values with the people you wish to serve.
The reason I suggest this is after working with several well-established lawyers who were stuck in building their practice. WHen I got in there and went deeper, more often than not, they were stuck because the people they were serving were not aligned with their values. So save yourself the time and heartache and have that aligned from the beginning. No matter where you are in your career, it doesn’t hurt to ask yourself these kinds of questions.
We use our proprietary TSD system in teaching lawyers and accountants how to get more clients and grow their practice. TSD stands for Targeted, Strategic and Disciplined. As professionals if you are anything less than that, you are likely not getting the best results from your marketing and business development efforts.
Targeted in who and how you are in front of people. Strategic in your approach. And disciplined in that you keep doing it even when you are busy. Being more targeted ensures that whatever you do in business development, you are doing it in front of potential clients or referral sources. Being Strategic means planning ahead for everything you do from speaking at an event, to having a coffee follow-up meeting. The part of this system is Discipline. That is often the hardest part to get in the habit of. But if you follow this system, you will get more clients. You will grow your practice.
Don’t fear making mistakes. I know, easy to say. When you make mistakes, you learn, or at least have the opportunity to learn and improve. Making a mistake on a document or argument could cost your client a lot of money. Making a mistake in marketing or business development only goes to support your learning. No one is going to die.
If you are still unconvinced, look at me. I am a living example of someone who has made all kinds of mistakes in business, and I am not only still here, my business is flourishing. In fact that’s part of the reason you pay me for my services. I’ve already made most of the mistakes you could make and in doing so can save you a lot of time and money.
So thank you mistakes. You’ve taught me a lot.
Raindance: The Business Development Guide Book for Lawyers is now available through Carswell. Click here to go to Carswell for more information and ordering.
If you are a lawyer just starting out with business development, or already engaged and looking to up your game, this book is your practical, step-by-step guide to follow in order to achieve your goals.
In my last post I talked about working out with my trainer. How this relates to my coaching approach is simple. He took an assessment of where I am now. What my goals and nutritional habits are. And then helped me create a plan to get where I want to. I take the same approach coaching lawyers.
So this morning I hit the gym bright and early and used some of what I learned with my trainer. With out a doubt, I had one of the most intense and productive work outs in a long time.
So if you want to flex and build your business development muscle, you should give me a call. I can help.
Yes, that’s right. You read the title correctly. Just say no to coaching and watch your career tank. I left the last part out to catch your attention.
I always conduct interviews before taking on new clients. While interviewing one associate recently, it became blatantly obvious he was not an ideal candidate for coaching. He was very negative about his firm, the marketing direction they were taking, and their recent brand launch. (Like he is an expert in marketing?)
I could hardly sit through the interview. I couldn’t believe my ears. His partners had spoken highly of him and his ability. They wanted to provide him some individual support to help bolster his career, and this was his attitude? He actually told his firm he was too busy to engage in business development coaching. What? That’s like telling your firm, “I don’t really care about the direction of my career”. “I am not really sure I want to stay here”. “I don’t have time to develop my skills.” I could go on.
The flip side of this comes from a typical client. In our final coaching session audit of the program, he told me that initially he had been extremely sceptical about coaching, but he was mindful of saying no to his firm. It’s OK to be sceptical. You are lawyers after-all, being sceptical is part of your DNA. He went on to work with us and thrived in our program. Soon after he was asked to join full partnership. He thanked me for helping him achieve partnership so quickly.
Just say no to coaching and watch your career tank. When your firm is committed to your success and willing to invest in it, it’s not wise to say no, unless you are looking for a new career.